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Readers on the 'manifesto' on how to fix the schools
In light of the fashionable attacks on teachers' rights after the release of the documentary "Waiting for Superman," I'd like to respond to the "manifesto" from a teacher's perspective.
In general, the teachers in our schools are not the ancient, uncaring dinosaurs that the authors like to portray in their push to expand administrators' powers. Four years ago, as a young, new teacher, I had energy and enthusiasm to spare -- but skill comes from practice.
We can't forget, also, that teachers are not necessarily motivated by profit. In my experience, it is good working conditions that retain quality teachers. When administrators make work environments inhospitable or fail to support teachers' discipline decisions, we lose some high-quality teachers and other high-quality teachers put in less than their best efforts.
Laura Callis, Malden, Mass.
I found one section of the manifesto confusing. The writers acknowledged that it is difficult to teach a class where the students have widely divergent intellectual skills, and they asked whether it was reasonable to expect a teacher to adequately address the needs of students who read at very different levels.
Their answer? Use technology better and gather data. What does this mean? Maybe it means put more kids on computers. But to do what? To work on individualized lessons?
Maybe it means teachers should collect data about student performance. But to what end? With what free time?
Rather than suggesting concrete solutions to the problem of teaching children with different needs -- which may or may not involve technology -- the manifesto suggested we should figure the problem out someday soon. It seemed a very pat and shallow non-answer to a genuine problem.
Amy Hubbard, Washington